This year marked the third annual GordonFest, held at the Cascade Sportsman Club. This annual event celebrates Gordon, a Golden Retriever, and his 399 puppies from around the country. Gordon’s owner, Joe Strang, said the event is like a giant family reunion for the dogs. (Photo submitted)
By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
Most family reunions include maybe a hundred people, depending on how many generations and family tree branches there are. For GordonFest, you’re talking almost 400… dogs that is.
Gordon is a 12-year-old (90 in dog years) Labrador Retriever. His owner, Joe Strang, organizes GordonFest every year, a family reunion for his dog, Gordon.
“We’re lucky to have him,” Strang said of his dog. “He’s had a pretty good life.”
This was the third year for the annual bash, held at the Cascade Sportsman Club. Invites go out to all of the owners of Gordon’s 399 pups. People come from all over the country, and the world: San Diego, Long Island, St. Louis, Minneapolis and England.
“He has great grand pups now,” said Strang.
Gordon has one of the best personalities a dog could have, according to Strang. He doesn’t jump on strangers and rarely barks. Strang said his demeanor is the reason why they decided to breed him.
“People have complimented us on how well-behaved Gordon is,” Strang said.
So, the females come out to the Strang home in rural Cascade to be bred. Strang said they’ve bred about 50 females over the years, making the count up to 399 pups.
Strang started breeding Gordon when he turned 2. He said he does charge a breeding fee.
“I like to see good people get good dogs,” he said of Gordon passing down his exemplary disposition.
Unfortunately, they may not hit the 400 mark, as Strang explained that Gordon has probably had his hay day.
Three years ago, Strang took Gordon to Iowa State University to look into freezing his semen. With Gordon getting older, Strang wanted to be able to continue the family line in Gordon’s absence. Their first trip to ISU was uneventful, so they went back last year. However, Strang was told Gordon’s age prevented a positive outcome.
“Because of his age, he probably can’t father a litter anymore,” Strang said.
Strang keeps a record book of all of Gordon’s pups and where they live throughout the country and the world. Gordon has fathered both black and yellow labs. Strang keeps track of the number of males and females as well.
“He’s never had a chocolate lab, though,” explained Strang. “His blood line is strong with yellow labs.”
GordonFest is already in the works for next year.
“The dogs all get along great,” expressed Strang. He said they love running in the grass, fetching sticks in the pond and playing around.
Strang provides the meal for the day and the music, courtesy of a blue grass and string band.
“All of us dog owners are like one big family,” Strang said. Through the years, he’s received Christmas cards from many of the pup owners, complete with pictures of the dogs as well. “It’s a great feeling.”
At this year’s event, Park Farm Winery created a special label with Gordon on the bottle. They gave out samples and sold bottles of Doggone Red and Doggone White wines.
“It’s just a wonderful day!” expressed Strang.
GordonFest’s slogan is: “Good Friends. Good Dogs. Good Music.” That sums it up well.